I'm going to blog about his speech right now and maybe one more time, and I'm going to take a break for a while... Fair warning...
Now the conventions are finally over and the Palin media frenzy will continue through September, I'll just let everything settle out before I come up with too many conclusions.
However, I do want to say that McCain's speech was almost the exact opposite of Palin's in almost every way possible.
For the first time in this convention, he actually offered some words of grace toward Obama. Calling him a fine American and that the issues that bind them as Americans are greater than the issues that separate them as contenders for president, or something like that.
He gave a few digs at Obama, calling him a big spender, a big taxer, but there was not much red meat in the speech. I actually don't think McCain (similar to Obama) has the heart to do it. Instead, he spent a lot of his speech on his biography, and to tell you the truth other people did it better than he did. From McCain it started to sound redundant. Nonetheless, McCain's is an incredible and moving story. A story that's hard not to love.
He tried to get through a ton of policy, making particular mention of his surge and his foreign policy, but ironically he tempered his hawkish tendencies a bit here. Injecting a tad of refreshing pragmatism maybe recognizing the utter recklessness of Bush/Cheney and how much that has cost us.
Two pieces of the policy portion of his speech that were the most noteworthy for me:
First, he talked about how he wanted to modernize government. How he said that many of our programs our dated remnants of the past and need to be updated. So true, but he offered no specific plans other than a proposal to supplement a laid off worker's salary until the person was able to get re-trained with a new more relevant skill... Not sure that proposal resonated with the crowed, also seemed strange to have a 72 year old present himself as the choice to modernize our government...
Second, he talked most forcefully and sincerely about his desire to really change and reform not only the government but also the party. He blamed the party for getting too corrupt, too bloated, for being part of the problem. He talked about how Americans are tired of the political in-fighting, about how he wanted more cooperation. How he wanted to take the best ideas of either party, how he wanted to get past this notion where one party wanted to take credit for everything, how there should be shared victories.
The problem with these portions of the speech, while he sounded most sincere and most passionate here, the crowd hated it, there was very little clapping or cheering.
And that's when it hit me... All this talk about him being a maverick, and this was part of his speech as well. How people have used the label as both a complement and a criticize him. But who did? The democrats loved his independence his maverick-spirit. It was these freaking delegates who criticized him for it.
And when he used talked about it in the speech, they all laughed because McCain was the prodigal son who came back to the fold like a good soldier with the Palin VP pick.
Really the biggest cheers came when he talked about the surge (of course), when he talked about his POW experience (of course), but by far the loudest cheers came when he mentioned Palin.
This speech was weird and sad. It had none of the energy of Palin's speech, and it was largely poorly delivered. But I liked it. It reminded me why I've been such a firm McCain supporter for so long. The guy does have some goodness buried in there, and genuinely wants to do the right thing. It reminds me why John Kerry wanted him as his VP.
He is genuine friends with guys like Kerry and Biden and Kennedy. McCain is just not red-meat. He sees the good in people and really wants to do the best for his country. His desire is sincere.
The problem is that his policies seem very poorly flushed out. Partly because the party won't let him take it further, partly because he probably is a little too much burdened by the past. He just hasn't figured out a way to modernize his conservative principles in a way that makes sense in our world today. I'm not sure he really knows how to do it.
His plan for education reform? school vouchers.
For health care? Greater competition...
The economy? Tax cuts.
Sound familiar? So, he wants to reform the party, he's just not in a very good position to do so.
So, there you have it, definitely the most dysfunctional presidential ticket I've ever personally witnessed. And you can't tell me McCain really wanted to pick Palin. After hearing this speech tonight, and Lieberman's speech on Tuesday, Lieberman was the one he wanted. And a McCain/Lieberman ticket, although probably a losing ticket just makes a whole lot more sense. It also probably would have been much better for the party long term. Maybe would have forced them to soul searched...
But please tell me again, how the McCain/Palin ticket is going to defeat Obama/Biden?